Yes, it’s that time of year again; get ya picnic baskets, grab your retro bicycles and start a-frolicking because summer is officially here. And if ever an album was born to shoulder that oft-quoted title of ‘quintessential summer soundtrack’, it’s King Charles’ debut LoveBlood. A glorious mélange of reggae rock and folky whimsy, LoveBlood can be most aptly summed up as the lyrical love child of Caribbean Tropicana and rosy English folk.
The effortlessly beguiling opening lines of ‘Mississippi Isobel’ – ‘she grows wild strawberries/She’s made of ivory and pearl’ – exemplifies King Charles’s seductive powers of song writing. The buoyant piano chords breezily evoke visions of carefree summer afternoons, while ‘Lady Percy’, replete with gospel and reggae influences and armed with a joyously infectious refrain ‘Oh-uh-oh-oh Lady Percy will never come to my show’ is enough to send most reaching for the coconut bikinis and rum (in the best possible way of course).
The glam-folk extravaganza ‘Bam Bam’, as unsubtle as a door in the face, nevertheless highlights the King’s unbridled theatricality in a sublime riot of calypso rhythms, effervescent riffs and bombastic reggae-electro beats.
Meanwhile, the angelically mellow ‘Love Lust’ offers a reminder of King Charles’s close links to the Mumford and Sons brand of neo-folk revival. The dark vampishness of ‘Polar Bear’ and its refrain – ‘she’s got the hot blood of a polar bear/ The cool head of a crocodile’ – provides a climactic antithesis to the chirpy, tropical overtones of the album as whole.
LoveBlood marks a considerable victory for the hitherto much-maligned genre of reggae-folk. King Charles has brought the genre to near perfection by combining rythmic mastery with songwriting par excellence. So raise a salute to the King, procure a cocktail and form a conga line to a beach near you.